Converter or smart charger? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-19-2015, 07:21 PM   #1
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Name: David
Trailer: 1973 Boler 1300
British Columbia
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Converter or smart charger?

We are in the process of refurbishing our Boler 1300 and have already replaced the axle and added brakes. The wiring is very basic; no converter to charge the battery or breaker panel to protect the ac circuits. In a Gypsy caravan that my wife and daughter built, I installed a WFCO 8712 converter to charge the batteries and serve the ac circuits.
Power CentersWFCO WF-8712P, WF-8712 12 Amp Power Center


It seems to work well and was about $120 CAD from Amazon.ca

But for our little Boler, I have been contemplating installing a smart charger such as this one;
NOCO Genius G3500 Smart Battery Charger | Canadian Tire

It will of course not protect the ac circuits but I have been thinking about a simple GFCI for the first outlet, which could be wired to protect the other outlet (there are only 2).

The only dc loads are the 2 dome lights on the cabinet ends that I have converted to led bulbs, so I think the small 3.5 amp charger will be enough to keep the battery charged. I chucked the old wet cell battery on the tongue and plan to put a very small (20 - 40 amp hours?) gel or agm battery under the driver side of the dinette, where the shore power enters. Does anyone else have any suggestions or recommendations? Thanks!
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:41 PM   #2
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sounds good to me....

great idea about the GFI outlet(s)....seems that could work for a lot of small trailers.....it's all about use....why put in a whole panel for a couple/three plugs....unless I'm missing something

I have never seen one of those chargers.....(no fan, that's nice... I wonder if it's because of the 3.5A rating). I ditched my converter in favor of a charger...a 2/4/6A model...the fan was real loud for use when plugged in at a CG...so I installed a computer fan in its place.

that genius charger seems to be "smarter" than my "multi-stage" charger right out of the box...all my lights are LEDs...I don't use a lot of power...that genius charger would have probably worked fine for me...if I had seen it...go for it and let us know how it all works out...good luck with your project
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Old 06-20-2015, 02:56 PM   #3
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I've been trailering for a number of years now (two different trailers) with a dedicated charger - no convertor. I can't think of a single reason to install one that would justify the expense.

Less expensive convertors reputedly have rudimentary chargers that tend to overcook the battery.

I would recommend, however, some sort of circuit breaker or fuse for your incoming ac line. If I understand them correctly, the GFCI only protects from a ground fault - not power surges or higher than advertised voltages.

I used a small junction box that holds two circuit breakers. I just think it's prudent to not rely entirely on the campground electrical box to protect me from an electrical fire.
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Old 08-10-2015, 06:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenghost45 View Post
We are in the process of refurbishing our Boler 1300 and have already replaced the axle and added brakes. The wiring is very basic; no converter to charge the battery or breaker panel to protect the ac circuits. In a Gypsy caravan that my wife and daughter built, I installed a WFCO 8712 converter to charge the batteries and serve the ac circuits.
Power CentersWFCO WF-8712P, WF-8712 12 Amp Power Center


It seems to work well and was about $120 CAD from Amazon.ca

But for our little Boler, I have been contemplating installing a smart charger such as this one;
NOCO Genius G3500 Smart Battery Charger | Canadian Tire

It will of course not protect the ac circuits but I have been thinking about a simple GFCI for the first outlet, which could be wired to protect the other outlet (there are only 2).

The only dc loads are the 2 dome lights on the cabinet ends that I have converted to led bulbs, so I think the small 3.5 amp charger will be enough to keep the battery charged. I chucked the old wet cell battery on the tongue and plan to put a very small (20 - 40 amp hours?) gel or agm battery under the driver side of the dinette, where the shore power enters. Does anyone else have any suggestions or recommendations? Thanks!
I use a Noco in my trailer and its great. You want the 7200 or larger model. They have a 5 amp supply mode. This works with or without a battery and the charger runs at 13.6v at 5 Amps continuously. While out i run in supply and when i park the trailer for storage I run the charge mode to properly maintain the battery.

*The supply 5amps does not change with the larger charger, only the charging amperage.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:18 AM   #5
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How did this system work out for you? Did you get the GFI to work? Has The NoCo held up?
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Old 03-09-2016, 11:14 AM   #6
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Converter really needed?

I completely agree that it may not make sense to install a 110vac to 12vdc converter under the following circumstances:

(1) If you have relatively low 12vdc amperage needs. If like me, the total amperage of your interior LED lights, fans, dc outlets, etc is under 10 amps, it may make sense to simply use a 110vac to 12vdc power supply or smart charger with a power supply mode setting (e.g., some NOCOs).

(2) If you already have or find a more suitable smart charger for your battery vs. smart chargers available with converters. For example, some converters are not designed to charge AGM batteries. Other converters do not provide sufficient continuous charging amps and/or voltage.

(3) Difficult to fit new converter into available cabinet space, as is the case in my Trillium.

In my case, my Trillium vintage DC converter failed. Rather than replace with a new converter, I removed the DC transformer and use a 110vac to 12vdc low amperage adapter. For charging my AGM battery, I use a standalone smart charger. I plan to add a switch for selecting DC adapter vs battery power.

In my Trillium, I still use the vintage 110vac mains circuit breaker (may update this) and plan to add 110vac branch circuit breakers. Also, I still use the vintage 12vdc circuit breaker (may update this) and plan to add 12vdc branch circuit breakers.
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Old 03-09-2016, 11:24 AM   #7
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Converter really needed?

As mentioned in an earlier thread, I use an Optima Yellow Top D51 38 amp hour battery for boondocking. This battery only discharges down to 50% in 4-5 days when powering about 5 1156 LED bulbs for five hours per day and an LP detector 24 hours per day.

Also, if you don't boondock, you don't need a battery. In that case, a simple 110vac to 12vdc power supply is sufficient.
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Old 03-09-2016, 11:58 AM   #8
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Name: David
Trailer: 1973 Boler 1300
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Originally Posted by Ironhinge View Post
How did this system work out for you? Did you get the GFI to work? Has The NoCo held up?
We ended up using this charger instead of the Noco:
https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It was only $48 CAD when we bought it, but the falling Canadian dollar has changed that. It has worked very well for almost a year including a 7 week trip last fall from Vancouver Island to Vermont. The 0.8 amp charge rate may seem puny, but we only have two led lights and one small 12 volt fluorescent light; that's it! The battery we use is a small sealed 7 ah like these:
https://www.amazon.ca/SECURITY-SIMIL...p+hour+battery

Never got around to the GFCI.......
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Old 03-09-2016, 12:33 PM   #9
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For me a converter is a waste of money. I use a battery minder while at home, the tug and solar while traveling. Converter is turned off.

I'm very rarely plugged in so a converter makes no sense to me.
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